Why we paid over $20 for popcorn

When you’re a foreigner in Japan, it’s sometimes hard to find the foods you crave from back home. When you live on a tiny island, a 2 and a half hour boat ride away from the mainland and 5 hour bus ride to the nearest big city, it’s impossible.    Tortillas?  Forget about it.  Cheddar cheese?  Yeah, right.  Bagels? Non-frozen meat? Macaroni and cheese? Cereal? Non-fat milk? Sour cream? More than two brands of yogurt to choose from?  Only in our dreams.  Hungry at 8pm and want to go buy a snack?  Sorry, you have to wait until 7:30 in the morning when the two general stores on the island open back up.  Don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of great things about living here, but buying food is not one of them.

As a result of our extremely limited options, sometimes we get a little bit desperate.  That’s where The Flying Pig steps in.  For those of you who don’t live in Japan, The Flying Pig is a website that will ship you foreign foods from Costco Japan.  It’s one of the few places we can buy foreign foods.  It’s also suuuper expensive.  But hey, when you’re craving something comforting from home, you’ll pay almost anything.  Even over $20USD (1680 yen) for popcorn.

Here’s our massive tub o’ popcorn:

Pop, pop, pop!

When we first arrived in Japan, we thought microwave popcorn would be a great thing to have in our pantry (a.k.a space on the floor next to the fridge).  Wrong.  It turns out that our microwave/oven/toaster/grill combo only likes to burn popcorn kernels, not cook said kernels into fluffy, buttery goodness.  As a result of our microwave misadventure, we have started cooking our popcorn on the stove. Here’s how we do it:

  1. In a medium-size pot with a lid that fits well, heat about 2 or 3 tablespoons of cooking oil (we use something  we can buy at the stores here called salad oil [soy bean oil]).  Add three or four kernels to the oil and let it heat up on medium heat.
  2. Once the kernels have popped, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of kernels to the heated oil and take it off the heat.  Let the kernels and oil sit for 30 seconds, allowing all of the kernels to reach the same temperature.
  3. Return the pot to the stove on medium heat.  The kernels should begin popping after another 30 seconds.
  4. At first, many kernels will be popping at the same time.  When the popping slows to one pop at a time, take the popcorn off of the heat and transfer it to a big bowl.  If you wait any longer, the popcorn on the bottom will be burnt…we know from experience.
  5. Add your favorite seasoning.  Simple sea salt and cracked pepper is delicious.  You can also add curry powder for an interesting flavor.  Cayenne pepper is also good.  Parmesan cheese, for those of you who have it, adds a cheesy surprise 🙂
  6. Eat and enjoy!

Before moving to Japan, we had never made stove-top popcorn.  However, since we’re able to add our own ingredients and make as much or as little as we want, we’ll most likely continue to make popcorn sans microwave even in the US.

Let us know how you make popcorn in the comments section below.  What other seasonings do you add to it?


2 thoughts on “Why we paid over $20 for popcorn

  1. Gabriella May 4, 2012 / 11:41 pm

    I like olive oil on popcorn! But that was on microwave popcorn that didn’t have oil on it already!

    You should try desert popcorn like caramel or cinnamon ….or you could come to Disneyland with me an eat it there 😉

  2. Tash May 16, 2012 / 5:13 pm

    I love homemade popcorn. It’s got to be better for you than the packaged stuff with all those preservative in it. My fav combo is butter and olive oil. Add both to the pan instead of just oil. Also like to chuck a couple of cubes of butter in the pot when the popcorn is half popped. Then some pieces have a nice buttery coating on the outside. Neadless to say I don’t eat popcorn that often! 🙂

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